Jews in the News: Ezra Miller, James Franco and Chuck Lorre

At the Movies: Opens Nov. 16

The artist and filmmaker JULIAN SCHNABEL, 67, is the director and co-screenwriter of “At Eternity’s Gate,” a bio-pic about the final days of Vincent Van Gogh. French Jewish actor MATHIEU AMALRIC (“Munich”), 53, has a major supporting role as Dr. Paul Gaudet, a physician who treated Van Gogh during the artist's last months. Gaudet was a great supporter of artists and the Impressionist movement.

“Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald” is a sequel to “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them” (2016).  Both films were written J.K. Rowling (“Harry Potter”.) These films are prequels to and a spin-offs from the world of “Harry Potter” and there will be more films in the “Beasts” film franchise. “Crimes” begins with the dark wizard Gellert Grindelwald (Johnny Depp) escaping captivity. He then starts to enlist followers who will help him raise wizards, like himself, above all non-magical beings. Will our hero, Newt Scamander (Eddie Redmayne), an introverted British wizard, be able to stop Grindelwald again?

Newt’s allies include Tina and Queenie Goldstein, American “good” wizards (Rowling has hinted they are Jewish). DAN FOGLER, 42, plays Jacob Kowalski, a “good” WWI American vet who is sweet on Queenie (again, there are hints that he is Jewish). Meanwhile, EZRA MILLER, 26, reprises his big role as bad guy Credence Barebone. Also co-starring is ZOE KRAVITZ, 29. She plays Leta Lestrange, who Scamander was sweet on before she betrayed him.

I think it’s important to note that J.K. Rowling, who isn’t Jewish, has been a vocal opponent of the “BDS” movement and, via social media, has taken on those on the British Left who have crossed the line that separates legitimate criticism of Israel from anti-Semitism.

MATTHEW HEINEMANN, 34, an Oscar-nominated documentary filmmaker, makes his debut as a feature film director with “A Private War.” It tells the story of Marie Colvin (1956-2012), an American journalist who covered some of the hottest war zones in the world and was almost certainly murdered on the orders of the current Syrian regime. Rosamund Pike stars as Colvin.

Two Choice Netflix Offerings

The COEN brothers’ original film “The Ballad of Buster Scruggs” will be released on Netflix on Friday, Nov. 16. Six different tales from the Old West are told. The first story co-stars TIM BLAKE NELSON, 54, and DAVID KRUMHOLTZ, 40. JAMES FRANCO, 40, stars in the 2nd story and SAUL RUBINEK, 70, stars in the 6th story.

You’ll probably recognize Nelson and Rubinek, who have been very active character actors for decades. Rubinek was born in a displaced persons camp in Germany in 1948 and moved with his Polish Jewish parents to Canada shortly after his birth. His parents survived the Holocaust because Polish farmers hid them. I best remember Rubinek for two roles. He played a nervous journalist who wrote puffed-up biographies of gunslingers in the Western classic “Unforgiven” (1992) and he appeared in 15 episodes of “Frasier” as lawyer Donny Douglas, the boyfriend of star character Daphne.

“The Kominsky Method”, a comedy/drama series, begins on Netflix on Nov.16. Created by CHUCK LORRE, 65, it stars MICHAEL DOUGLAS, 74, as Sandy Kominsky, a successful actor who has morphed into a highly respected acting coach. ALAN ARKIN, 84, plays Norman, Sandy’s former agent and best friend. LISA EDELSTEIN, 52, has a recurring role as Norman’s daughter, a pill-popping alcoholic. Also worth noting: Nancy Travis, 57 (“Last Man Standing”) co-stars as a new student of Sandy Kominsky. I am guessing she becomes his love interest. In 2007, Travis said that she and her Jewish husband were raising their two sons Jewish and that she was very active at their Reform temple. She said she hadn’t converted to Judaism “out of respect for her [Catholic] parents.” Perhaps she has joined “the tribe” in recent years.

Lorre was interviewed by “CBS Sunday Morning” on Nov. 4 (available on-line). He grew up on Long Island, where his father struggled to keep his luncheonette open. After dropping out of college, Lorre had some minor success as a rock musician and songwriter. However, by the time he was in his late ‘30s, he realized he had to “make money” to support his two young kids. Lorre described how he faked his way into a job writing scripts for an animated TV show. That led to other, better jobs and, eventually, his creation of a string of hit TV comedy shows, including “Cybill,” “Dharma and Greg,” “Two and a Half Men,” “The Big Bang Theory”, “Mike and Molly,” and “Mom.”


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